World Sea Turtle Day!

Today is World Sea Turtle Day! In celebration, we share some images from Special Collections & Archives’ copy of Louis Agassiz’s Contributions to the natural history of the United States of America Volume II Part III, “Embryology of the turtle.”

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above: 1,2 ASPIDONECTES SPINIFER A$ — 3 PLATYPELTIS FEROX FlCZ. — 4,5. ASPIDONECTES EMORY1 A$ ^ 6,7. AMYDA MUTICA FlU. 8,9 Chrysemys Bellii Gray — 10-12 Ozotheca odorata -—-13 32. Thalassochely.s Caduana Ficz

The image above includes one of the sea turtles native to the United States, the loggerhead sea turtle (no. 13-32), as well as several freshwater softshell turtles (no. 1-7), a painted turtle (no. 8-9), and a musk turtle (no. 10-12). Several illustrators worked with Agassiz on “Embryology of the turtle:” Jacques Burkhardt, Henry James Clark, and Auguste Sonrel.

While Agassiz’s legacy includes endorsement of the theory of polygenism, a form of scientific racism, in his early career he was a well recognized biologist and geologist. The four volumes of Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America were published from 1857-1862 and detail the zoology of American turtles and jellyfish. The compendium was meant to eventually include ten volumes but was never finished.

Below are more images from “Embryology of the turtle” of both freshwater turtles and their eggs and embryos.

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Additional images from Contributions to the natural history of the United States of America can be found in the fully digitized volumes in HathiTrust and in a digital exhibit from the Gould Library at Carleton College, or come view the volume in person in the Booth-Bricker Reading Room on the third floor of the library.

Happy day, world sea turtles! Do you like turtles?

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